A heartbroken family have paid tribute to a "lovely" World War Two veteran who passed away last week.

Wraysbury born Ernest John Sleep has lived in the borough all of his life and was recently granted the Freedom of his beloved Wraysbury, Berkshire.

John was called up in 1940 with the Royal Berkshires and then later bravely volunteered for the Parachute Regiment. After training, he was posted to the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment.

He was then attached to the Royal Norfolks and took part in the fighting at Overloon and Venray in October 1944 in the south-east of the Netherlands.

After World War 2 ended, John used his carpentry skills making gymnastic equipment and after retiring, he continued his love of working with wood by making beautiful rocking horses.

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Having just turned 100-years-old, Ernest John Sleep passed away at his family home in Wraysbury on February 18.

His daughter Margaret Crook, said, “John will be sadly missed by all his family and friends. He was a lovely man.”

The Taxi Charity, an organisation run by volunteer London licensed taxi drivers has been supporting hundreds of veterans like John since 1948.

John went on trips with the Taxi Charity to the Netherlands with other WWII veterans to remember those who did not make it home.

Dick Goodwin Vice President of the Taxi Charity, said, “Last month John celebrated his 100th birthday and was delighted to receive cards and good wishes from across the world.

"Sadly, he was not able to celebrate in the way the family had originally planned, because of lockdown restrictions, but the family shared pictures of John surrounded by cards with a fabulous birthday cake and a huge smile on his face.”

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Glyn Dewis, who took the portrait of John Sleep pictured above, added: “Of all the veterans I have been privileged to meet and photograph for the 39-45 Project, photographing John was the most emotional. Taking time to talk with him while we both had a mug of tea John told me some of his story and it was so clear to see that he'd lived with those events continually.

"Meeting John changed not what I do but how I do it in a big way and taught me that the most important part of taking a portrait is taking time with the person, getting to know them, slowing down, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. I'll always remember John's smile, both when we caught up in Normandy and when he came for a private viewing to see his picture in my 39-45 Portraits Project Exhibition.

"The World has lost another great.”